Game Notes: Nets at Sixers
The Nets Try and Fight and Claw and Scrap and Lose
By Jake Appleman/@JakeAppleman
With the circus arriving–an unnecessary parade that pretends to look into the future while diminishing the integrity of the acrobatics we love–it seemed like a good night to take in a game that nobody’s paying attention to. So Ben Couch of the Nets and I jetted down to the Turnpike for the latest installment of NY metro area team vs. Philly team. Here’s how it went down.
–I found out that Rutherford, New Jersey is a real place. I’m sure there are plenty of fans that have only been to the Izod Center in East Rutherford, and didn’t know about actual Rutherford. Considering the architectural albatrosses close by, it’s pleasantly quaint.
–I brought up Andre Iguodala’s trick shot in the home locker room and all of the Sixers maintained that it was real, even though few had seen it. (The video loses track of the ball for a good chunk of the time after it ricochets off the wall.) Iggy lost his trademark sly grin to a little confusion when I mentioned that some people might think it was fake, but he also seemed happy and surprised to see it getting burn on the net. For what it’s worth, Willie Green said he can make it and that he’s seen Kyle Korver make consecutive off-the-wall practice facility shots.
–The Nets are trotting out Trenton Hassell, Eduardo Najera, Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee (struggling from the floor) and Rafer Alston. Not exactly a Better Basketball instructional video on shooting.
–I tell a few Sixers that Hassell is starting in place of T-Will, correcting their dry-erase board out loud. None of them care. Bad move, fellas.
–I saw a reporter tell longtime stat legend Harvey Pollack the exact quote from Bill Simmons’s book tour column about meeting Pollack, who was present at Wilt’s 100 point game. This was funny because I had finished reading the column literally a minute before. People started messing with Pollack, joking that he was front page of ESPN.com famous and couldn’t go outside now.
–Sean Williams’s shirt is classy, suave purple. Not girlish-purple, not deep purple, not Grimace-purple–classy, suave purple.
–Primoz Brezec is on the inactive list for the Sixers, under “Coach’s Decision.” It should just say “Primoz Brezec: No.”
–With the Phillies two days removed from a World Series appearance, the city in the middle of another Eagles playoff push, a Septa strike negating public transportation options and the injury depleted Nets in town, anything over 10,000 actual fans in the arena tonight would be a minor miracle.
–Eddie Jordan’s niece, Kimberly, belts out a wonderful rendition of the national anthem, following a deserved moment of silence for those slain at Ft. Hood. Kimberly Jordan’s shirt is girlish purple. Not deep purple, not classy, suave purple, not Grimace-purple–girlish purple.
–6-6 early. Iggy’s too in love with the three; 2 fouls for Eduardo Najera in the first minute and a half; the Nets haven’t yet been relegated to the D League.
–Iggy rectifies the predisposed jumper-happiness with two dribble drives for an and-one (missed FT) and a ferocious slam. 10-6.
–I have a strange affinity for Thaddeus Young’s long, loping strides. His gait effectively helps him get to the rim quicker, but it can lead to awkward shots when he jumps from strange places.
–The Sixers’ mascot is a rabbit named Hip-Hop, and is in no way connected to the character from 8 Mile. Go figure. Maybe it should go nail Brittany Murphy in the stairwell of a tire factory.
–Two straight traveling calls on Thad Young. Frequent flyer miles to…Atlanta? For a Georgia Tech reunion?
–Elton Brand shows off much of his repertoire early: a midrange face-up J, a driving banker against Josh Boone, a mini hook/layup underneath and a re-post flowing into a jump hook for an and-one. The strange part about this is that Eddie Jordan only played him 19 minutes. In fact, it was a relief to see him alive in the locker room after the game.
As I mentioned to Couch, since he just doesn’t appear to fit in here, the Nets should consider making a run at him if they can’t sign a free agent power forward in 2010, assuming the Sixers would eat a decent chunk of his salary.
–Terrence gets the best of Lou in the first possession of “ridiculously fast Williams” vs. “lightning speed Williams” with a dish to Brook. T-Will then finds Hassell along the baseline, putting the Nets up 20-18, which is, implausibly, improbably, unbelievably, remarkably, how the quarter finishes.
–Boone’s been very active with 5 boards in the quarter.
–Andre Iguodala just assured this game would make SportsCenter with a THUNDEROUS, ONE-HANDED JAM over T-Will. Seriously, he cupped the rock like it was his baby that he was about to unleash into the great blue yonder of the sky. Or something. Slamadamonth? Iggy popped?
–Willie Green doesn’t shoot 22-foot twos. Willie Green is 22-foot twos.
–We’re going back and forth here like it’s the Jersey Turnpike. Marreese Speights and Jason Smith are providing good interior presences on both ends. Bobby Simmons goes on a mini Bobby Simmons run. And it’s always nice watching Jason Kapono shoot.
–T-Will finds Boone open underneath for a dunk with a pass from behind halfcourt. That’s the court vision folks have been raving about.
–Even though he’s semi-impressive (bounding, midrange J, getting to the line, tough, etc.), I feel like Jason Smith would be better suited as a Presidential bodyguard than a basketball player.
–If you had a Trenton Hassell-Eddie Najera give-and-go and a clear path foul as the answer to “how will the Nets stay afloat in the second quarter?” congratulations, you just won a reversible coupon to the Bendix Diner on Rt. 17.
–The Philly crowd energizers wear tee shirts that say “Hare Raisers,” because there’s nothing quite like a hell pun rooted in bunnies.
–Sammy Dalembert fires a ridiculous feed to a streaking TY for a revrese layup. Best pass of Dalembert’s life, hands down. A Lou Williams 3-ball gives the Sixers a 50-47 edge, which is where we stand at the half.
–Trenton “Tennessee Tanzania Tajkistan” Hassell leads the Nets with 11 points on 5-6 from the floor. Credit Lawrence Frank for pulling the right string.
–Thad starts the quarter off of with a reverse layup. He has two baskets and two reverse layups, so I guess you could say they’re exclusive.
–Courtney Lee, following a fastbreak goal-tending call on Sammy D, heads to the bench to get his knee checked out. The Nets are literally in the midst of filming Final Destination 4, Plantar Fasciitis.
–You come for the pregame fried chicken, but you stay for the Brook Lopez jumpers and the melted butter Lou Williams threes.
–Najera and Hassell are giving the Nets huge boosts. Eddie’s rabid energy is contagious and Tennessee’s getting buckets any way he can; if he was a pitcher, he’d be Eddie Harris in Major League, throwing spitballs and rubbing the ball with Chase Utley’s Vaseline.
And the rook, T-Will, has seven assists, his passing helping offensive continuity for a group that needs it to put points on the board. Even on a bullet feed to Tennessee that ends up as a blocked shot, the vision and execution are unmistakable.
–Red-Faced Fan: “You’re losing to the Nets! Are you kidding me!?!!” This elicits laughs from the Nets’ bench. The Nets open up a 67-61 lead behind Brook Lopez on O and some Philly turnovers. In honor of Bill Walton’s retirement, I’ll just note here that the Sixers look terrible. Just terrible. And Coach Wooden would never stand for such careless play.
–The “Eduardo Najera Up-Fake Appreciation Society” will meet after the game. [Fourth Quarter update: Bobby Simmons and Brook Lopez are both attending. Intelligence. It's fundamental, baby!]
–Nets catch a huge break: T-Will blows a layup which leads to Lou Williams faking Josh Boone out of his socks on a potentially back-breaking buzzer-beating three to end the quarter. 73-71, Nets. After a review, no good. 73-68.
–Bobby Simmons and Jason Kapono exchange threes to start the quarter. If you combine those two guys, they’re actually Bill Simmons’s book tour.
–A Rodney Carney three brings the Sixers within 79-76, but probably prolongs the Septa strike because he’s Rodney Carney.
–Courtney Lee is out with a strained left groin. You can’t make this stuff up. Although if he had to injure a groin, you’d expect it to be his left, as his right is his stronger groin.
–TRENTON HASSELL GRABBED AN OFFENSIVE REBOUND AND DUNKED ON SOMEONE WITH TWO HANDS. COUCH AND I JUST STARED AT EACH OTHER LIKE HALLE BERRY TOOK OFF ALL OF HER CLOTHES. I AM EXCITED.
–After heading to Gino’s for a cheese steak for two quarters, Andre Iguodala has returned. Perhaps just in time. After the game I asked him about strong start and the lull that followed. His curt reply: “I’m just trying to go out there and attack. First half, I probably did pretty well. Second half, didn’t do a good job, as you pointed out.”
–Lou Williams–the Sixers’ most effective scorer and player lately–and Skip are trading buckets. A LW jumper forces Lawrence Frank to call a timeout. 92-90, Sixers.
–Following a B-Lo pair, Iggy drains a wing three and Tennessee, from the school of hard Knox, grabs a board in traffic and heads to the line, where he misses both. 95-92, Sixers. Skip silences the crowd with another driving lefty layup. Rather intense for such a small crowd.
–Sammy Dalembert grabs a huge o-board off an Iggy midrange miss with 26.3 seconds left. Fouled by Skip.
–Nets foul Thad Young, who continues his atrocious night by splitting a pair.
–Najera drives right and misses a running floater off the window. Iggy fouled. Splits the pair. 97-94. One last shot for the Netsies.
–Iggy swipes at T-Will on a desperation three and gets the ball, at least according to the refs. Sammy Dalembert bounces around like the Sixers actually accomplished something, which is highly debatable. A tough one for the still-winless Nets, maybe on par with the opening night abomination in Minnesota, purely because of how hard the team fought to try and pull this one out.
An “A” for effort. And a “C” for Celtics tomorrow. With Boston losing for the first time tonight, you almost expect Kevin Garnett to shelve Brook Lopez for a month with third degree burns after breathing fire on him.
–Brook Lopez, on improving during tough times: “A lot of guys have chances to step up and gain experience; T-Will, myself…guys like us who are in our first or second season, it’s a really good chance to get out there and log long minutes.
–Lou Williams, on Philly’s depth: “I was in there with four guys out of the second group, and they did a great job of making shots. That makes it a lot easier, when you have guys that come in that can provide a spark off the bench and make shots and keep the game close. Those guys were able to do that, so I give a lot of credit to them…We’re going to need [depth]. A lot of these great teams, you look at the Bostons, the Orlandos, they have deep benches. We’re going to need our guys to step up in order to compete with those teams.